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Letter: Drop the Three-Channel Rule

A serious consideration for AM revitalization is being overlooked

The author is president of Nova Electronics in Dallas, Texas.

A serious consideration for AM revitalization is being overlooked. Rather than promoting digital, which is still not ready for prime time, how about making changes in facilities a little more friendly?

One way is to get rid of the three-channel rule, which has outlived its usefulness. Many stations are going dark, but the band is still too crowded for most stations to move within that range. In order to reduce interference and improve coverage (which the FCC claims is of high importance, but doesn’t seem to practice), a station may have a frequency available that accomplishes all the above but is outside the range; and waivers are nearly impossible to receive. 

At present you have to wait for an AM filing window, which may not happen for years to decades (the last one was over 20 years ago), in order to make a move outside the three channels. 

There is no good reason for this, with the number of stations recently going dark, whereby a struggling station could improve their coverage and reduce current interference if such a move were allowed. 

Another factor would be to allow more stations into the expanded band. There are only 52 stations across the nation in the entire expanded band, making it an additional resource that is being vastly underutilized. 

Keep adequate protections between stations so as not to overcrowd the band, and allow this underpopulated territory to be used for improving the AM band, which was the primary motivation for its creation. 

These simple changes can be made with no real costs or changes in regulatory structure required. Unfortunately that seems to be the exact opposite of what government does.